November 15th, 2012
03:32 PM ET
2 years ago

McCain skips Benghazi briefing, gets testy when questioned by CNN

(CNN) - Most of the Republican members of a Senate committee investigating the terrorist attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, skipped a classified briefing by administration officials on the incident Wednesday, CNN has learned.

The missing lawmakers included Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who at the time of the top-secret briefing held a press conference in the Capitol to call for the creation of a Watergate-type special Congressional committee to investigate how and why the attack took place.

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McCain, who has accused President Barack Obama of not telling the truth about the Benghazi attack, said that even though there are several committees involved in the probe, only a select committee could streamline the information flow and resolve the "many unanswered questions" about the tragedy.

When CNN approached McCain in a Capitol hallway Thursday morning, the senator refused to comment about why he missed the briefing, which was conducted by top diplomatic, military and counter-terrorism officials. Instead, McCain got testy when pressed to say why he wasn't there.

"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media," McCain said.

Asked why he wouldn't comment, McCain grew agitated: "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?”

When CNN noted that McCain had missed a key meeting on a subject the senator has been intensely upset about, McCain said, "I'm upset that you keep badgering me."

While McCain refused to shed light on why he didn't show, his spokesman Brian Rogers emailed CNN a short time later with an explanation. He blamed it on a "scheduling error" but wouldn't provide any more detail.

According to a Democratic aide on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, only three of the eight GOP members of the committee attended the two hour briefing that ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. By contrast, seven of the nine Democratic members were there.

McCain's press conference took place at noon.

McCain did spend several hours in a Senate Intelligence Committee briefing on Benghazi Thursday, and plans to attend the panel's closed-door session on Friday with former CIA Director David Petraeus.


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (584 Responses)
  1. David

    John McCain has turned into a bitter old man. He walked out the hearings on repeal of Don't ask don't tell" too. If he acts this way in public when he doesn't get his way one can only imagine what he is really like. The USA dodged a bullet when he lost his bid for the W.H.

    November 15, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. Kevin Mentor

    McCain is now acting like a sore, disgruntled loser. Perhaps something do with his age but this guy needs to retire. I am glad this guy lost in 2008 or we would have been still fighting in Iraq!

    November 15, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. The Situation

    The Maverick is going rogue now! This old man was grand standing in his criticism of Susan Rice with Graham that when he was supposed to be at the hearing, he skipped it. Yeah, what was McCain saying in 2008, "Country First", Yeah Right!

    Just another bitter Republican, like Romney at the face you lost against someone that wasn't the same skin color and by a landslide!

    November 15, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. cwm

    If this is so important... Rice, Obama and all Dems are responsible. Why would McCain miss such an important meeting? Scheduling error? Really? How about playing POLITICS with a bad situation to try and make the Prez look bad.

    November 15, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Greg Sleter

    So Sen. McCain goes on the Today show this morning and makes a number of accusations about the Benghazi situation. Then he's a no-show at the hearing with his all-time favorite general because of a "scheduling conflict." Maybe Luke Russert should ask the Senator about his age and whether it's time to move on.

    November 15, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. FL Guy

    Man I wish all of you libs would press BO as much as you are McCain....the reporter wanted to know his schedule...where were the questions to the president…… where was he, what was his schedule (oh yes I forgot…Vegas, the View, Oprah etc…), what was he doing during the attack….. Where did Ms. Rice get the information that she spread on every political talk show? Real questions that we want to know as well. Or are you giving him and his team another hall pass???? If you are going to attack McCain then attack BO and his administration in the same manner.

    November 15, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. vic , nashville ,tn

    Sen. Mc Cain Time to retire

    November 15, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    "Did you order a stand down to all combat troops & support teams while this attack was going down?"

    Hey, Jethro. Step away from NCIS ............. and give the real world a turn.

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    How dare McCain beat up on Susan RIce but defended Condoleeza Rice...double standard???

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. ELi

    Since I do not know all the details (just like everyone else) on the attack, I can not talk on that issue, but I do know for weeks I ve heard people attacking this administration over this issue and John McCain was one of them and for him not to show up for the briefing is crazy. Kinda like if you dont vote you cant complain-if you dont show up for the briefing you cant complain. This is all show–We are so divided

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  11. roy

    Well McCain wouldn't shut up about Behngazzi and wouldn't leave Obama alone about it, so then he should be there. And if had a scheduling problem, just say so.

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  12. Larry L

    Interesting McCain believes a taxpayer doesn't have the right to question his job performance. I thought we paid his salary.

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. SpeedRacer

    If McCain, attends the briefing he knows that he will understand the specific reasons for the attack, and the aftermath response – which is CLASSIFIED! Once that happens he will not be able to insult the Commander in Chief or the UN Ambassador! He should have attended the session and find out – it is his responsibility as a Senator to provide oversight! He abdicated his duties for cheap political gain. Good Grief! Imagine if this much "passion/venom" was unleashed on another Commander in Chief – Remember the Terrorist Suicide bomber action that killed 241 American Marine 25 years ago in Lebanon barracks October 23, 2008! President Reagan would have had McCain for Breakfast. Bad Stuff happens in bad places. Rest in Peace Ambassador Stevens and the brave men that died to defend him and the American Honor/Flag/Cause.

    November 15, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. carlcid

    McCain is getting grumpier and more ornery with age. He is still bitter about losing the elections in 2008 and he wants to get even with President Obama any way he can. We have a psychotic old man in our hands.

    November 15, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    @Walkman: What has happened to your brain?

    Ask yourself this: Wouldn't it have been better, given the fact that the election was less than 2 months away, for President Obama to have done everything in his power to STOP the Benghazi attack and NO Americans die? You all claim that President Obama watched the attack in "real time" and stood by, "letting" Americans die.

    That makes absolutely NO sense! And regarding the rocket launcher, there are plenty of factions still in Libya that have arms, factions who were just waiting for an excuse to launch an attack against Americans. They are laughing so hard at all you righties and your pathetic knee-jerk hatred and inability to see through the lies the GOP and likes of Limbaugh feed you on a daily basis ...

    November 15, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. Smitty

    McCain is washed up. He shouldn't be critical of the president in the first place, but then he can't even show up to the briefing. Even cancer treatments could be scheduled around this, but yet this bum can't even make a meeting for something he was so critical of. If McCain was a football player, he would be playing for the Jets right now.

    November 15, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  17. joshua

    8 weeks and no answers from obama. but let's go after mccain for missing a briefing being led by the same folks that lied to the american people for two weeks about a stupid youtube video.let's be serious and go after the real criminals in all this. obama and his cronies knew their was a problem, removed the security detail, and then didn't send help when they were asked. why?

    November 15, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. john vance

    What's up with Sen McCain? He was always opinionated and a lot of fun but he seems a little, I don't know, off the edge about this issue, more than just the expected political sniping and back-and-forth.

    November 15, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Gary

    McCain is irrelevant...more so every day.

    November 15, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Bob

    The guy is a joke – and a bad one...

    November 15, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. knklhead

    Can anyone help me understand what the 24 hour-a-day, two-month-long drumming on FOX about Benghazi is all about, please?

    Is it that the wingnuts think President Obama had his men intentionally killed? Or is it that he didn't say immediately it was a terrorist attack? I am having a hard time understanding the fervor over this. I want to understand the grand conspiracy theory ...

    November 15, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. john_vance

    What's up with Sen McCain? He was always opinionated and a lot of fun but he seems a little, I don't know, off the edge about this issue, more than just the expected political sniping and back-and-forth.

    November 15, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. mb2010a

    "You kids get of of my lawn, dammit...". McCain simply can't handle the truth and when offered a chance to hear the truth, he simply refuses to listen...

    November 15, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  24. joshua

    what is obama hiding? 8 weeks, still no answers.

    November 15, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are PROVEN FAILURES

    @FL Guy: How do you feel about GW Bush being warned about al Qaeda attacking the U.S. a month before 9/11 and responding by going on yet another vacation at his ranch in Crawford?

    That is FACT; the Benghazi attack is still under investigation. World of difference – but you won't care, because you hate President Obama ...

    November 15, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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